What we truly and earnestly aspire to be, that in some sense, we are. The mere aspiration, by changing the frame of the mind, for the moment realizes itself.

Anna Jameson

 Achievement is largely the product of steadily raising one’s levels of aspiration and expectation.

Jack Nicklaus

To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.

Khalil Gibran

 Faith is not a way of knowing. It is a way of yearning, of aspiring, and so, a way of creating.


If we would allow our emotions to take control of us in times of hardship or times of major disappointment, we would never be able to grow into people who can make significant contributions to society – however talented we might be. We would in effect marginalise ourselves. We will forever be comfortable with the victim-label around our necks. Feelings of anger, resentment, depression and envy, or apathy and indifference, will take control of us. It will prevent us from taking constructive steps that could improve our sense of well-being and potential.

To rise above our disappointments and negative emotions, we need a faith to live by, a self to live with and a purpose to live for, to quote Bob Harrington. As long as we allow our problems, however big they seem to be, to occupy our minds only as problems, we allow them to control our attitudes to life, our perceptions of ourselves, and our behaviours and interactions with others. We allow them to pull us down and make us send out negative signals to the world around us. Fortunately, as human beings, we are blessed with minds that can imagine and hearts that can be lifted to see possibilities, to start believing in something that can give us new meaning and to recognise we are not alone.

The world is a noisy place and it is becoming noisier by the day. To know what we truly believe in, what our aspirations and what our vision in life is, is an ongoing task if we want to experience meaning. This is where self leadership begins. Our task is to be true to ourselves, which sounds easier than what it really is. We can spend years running away from ourselves trying to be what we believe others believe we should be. We might try hiding bad things not only from others but also from ourselves.

Finding a personal vision comes easier for some than for others. As Peter Senge points out, feelings of unworthiness and feelings of powerlessness are strong forces that tie us down. Some people don’t feel worthy of a calling, a purpose in life that is meant for them specifically. For them it is more comfortable to think of themselves as just one of the crowd – nothing special and nothing particularly bad as well. What is sad is not the fact that many people can’t say that they have a vision for their lives, but that so many have given up looking for theirs – perhaps because they compare themselves with the high-flyers, those who are honoured and praised for their success. We should know that not all people who are seen as successful are true to themselves. They could be miserable in their success because they resist their true calling.

As long as we compare ourselves with others, our pursuit for meaning, personal vision and aspirations in life will be clouded. Our first commitment needs to be to ourselves, based on the belief that we are unique and have a unique purpose in life. We do experience failures of all kinds as we try to advance in life, but we should keep in mind what William Brown rightly said: Failure is an event, never a person.

To live with vision does not mean an easy path to success. It requires discipline and focus to do the right thing however difficult it might be. It requires openness and flexibility when things don’t go according to our whishes or expectations. The desire to control can be our biggest obstacle. You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration – James Allen.

The leader in you knows that One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar – Helen Keller. Our aspirations are our possibilities.

Author : Dr Gerhard van Rensburg